L’enfance, qui peut nous dire quand ça finit? (Brel)
Sadly I cannot abandon my beloved guest to attend this. That would be unthinkable. This is a pity, since the “nosebag (at the House) is top notch”. (Minder on the Orient Express)
The most delicious of all confections and the most intense of gastronomic pleasures at Christmas time, which, alas, have ceased to exist. I had hoped to find something comparable amongst the glacé fruits at Fortnum and Mason, but these fall a long way short of the exquisite crystallised figs I knew as a child. Sic transit gloria mundi.
How I miss that choice Christmas confection
Of Chinese Figs! Their recollection,
Such texture and sweetness
Restored to completeness!
I’m praying for their resurrection! LJ St.Martin
It has been a good summer for fresh fruit from the garden, with peaches at home and apricots and greengages in France, inter alia. The jam made from the apricots is quite outstanding on a slice of pain noir fresh from the market bakery “à quatre pas de notre maison.” Slurp!
Waking in London on the second day, I am now a member of the oldest private French restaurant club in the city, having been introduced by Charlie. I was smitten by the cadre, a real coup de foudre, by the charm of the patron and by his willingness to converse in French. What clinched it, however, was the music. What could constitute a warmer welcome than “Je me suis fait tout petit”, by Georges Brassens! When the owner of the club declared how much he was missed, I knew I was in the right place and that there was no resisting the temptation of membership. The cheese board takes some beating, too; indeed it was one of the finest I had seen.
On waking, this time in London, I have two of the greats on my mind, Erasmus and Proust, the former for a titbit characteristic of his inventive wit and of which I have only recently become aware, which merely reveals that I should have made a point of reading footnotes more assiduously:
“He was born Gerrit Gerritszoon. Believing that this name derived from the German word begehren (to desire), he manufactured the name by which he is known by translating “desired” into Latin (desiderius) and Greek (erasmus).”
the latter for his eyes and for the painstakingly inventive character of his relationship with them:
“Je n’oublierai jamais, dans une curieuse ville de Normandie voisine de Balbec, deux charmants hôtels du XVIIIe siècle, qui me sont à beaucoup d’égards chers et vénérables et entre lesquels, quand on la regarde du beau jardin qui descend des perrons vers la rivière, la flèche gothique d’une église qu’ils cachent s’élance, ayant l’air de terminer, de surmonter leurs façades, mais d’une matière si différente, si précieuse, si annelée, si rose, si vernie, qu’on voit bien qu’elle n’en fait pas plus partie que de deux beaux galets unis, entre lesquels elle est prise sur la plage, la flèche purpurine et crénelée de quelque coquillage fuselé en tourelle et glacé d’émail.”
A lovely recent cycle ride around the western half of the Île de Ré, through vineyards laden with intoxicating promise, past wild flower meadows, across causeways traversing salt flats and along seaside pistes frequented by a multitude of sea birds, avocet, oyster-catcher, herring gull, hoopoe, stilt, egret, swan, sacred ibis, and let’s not forget the humble coot crossing the road with incongruous gaucherie.
As I set up this site, it occurs to me that a number of posts are going to appear somewhat out of chronological sequence, but as long as they fulfil an evocative function, I’m not too concerned. I think I’ll persevere with it, and I may even catch up with myself. This visit in September 2016, so rich in discovery and rediscovery, led on to some interesting reading, notably of histories of the Medici, starting with Lauro Martines’ “April Blood”, an authentic ripping yarn brought to life by an historian equal to the task.
Hollyhocks, bicycles and proximity to the sea are the essence of the Île de Ré, albeit in a platitudinous nutshell.
An essential key to a better understanding of the sixteenth century mind and a long overdue pleasure.
The Adonis Blue, loveliest of all the blue butterflies and rivalled only, perhaps, by the White Admiral as a thing of delicate wonder in flight, lending its grace to the beauty of the chalk uplands of southern England. This is the butterfly of our joyous childhood excursions to Hod Hill, where, I hope, it will continue to flourish long after the footprints of rapacious men fade from view. LJ
Lyndon’s Flipboard Link
This is a bleak assertion, particularly when considered in the light of contemporary potentialities, such as the clash between the forces of intransigent reaction and those of inelastic neo-puritanical progressivism, each in its way tending toward fanaticism and the false certainty of the “premature synthesis”, each therefore requiring caution. I would march for neither. The poignancy of Zweig’s allusion to the fate of Erasmus’ spirit of tolerance and moderation bears with it the weight of a terrible indictment, when we consider the manner in which all that he, the author, held dear, including life itself, was extinguished by Nazism. LJ
The world would gain much were the spirit of Erasmus to walk abroad amongst us in this age of populist frenzy, fecklessness and phoney hope. That of Zweig would be of comparable benefit. LJ